Nir Eyal: The Morality of Manipulation | Product Design | Udacity

Nir Eyal: The Morality of Manipulation | Product Design | Udacity

January 13, 2020 0 By Peter Engel


Hi, I’m with Nier again. In your book,
you talk about manipulation metrics. Could you explain about that?>>Yeah. So, ethics is something
I care about deeply. And, a question I often get is
aren’t you teaching people how to make the bomb, right? Aren’t you giving people the tools
to use our deeper psychology to manipulate people’s
day-to-day behaviors? And the answer is yes. That, in fact, these tools can
be used for nefarious purposes. The reason I wrote this book was
because I worked in the advertising and gaming industry and I’m trying to bring
these techniques that advertisers and gamers have known for
quite some time, but to bring these techniques
to the larger community. To help people build products and
services, not just in gaming and advertising, but in health care and
in education and in all sorts of industries where we
can use the power of habits for good. And so that’s really why,
the first reason I wrote this book. But there’s still this test that I
give to someone who’s concerned, hey how do I make sure that I’m using
these habit-forming techniques? for good.
And so I provide this two-part test in the form of what I call, what you
mentioned, the Manipulation Matrix. The Manipulation Matrix is this
four quadrant matrices where on one axis you have,
do you believe that the product or service that you’re working on is
materially improving people’s lives? Yes or No. That’s the first criteria on the Y axis. Do you believe what you’re working on
is materially improving people’s lives, yes or no. And only you can answer this question,
right? This isn’t a test for you to judge other
people or for other people to judge you. It’s sincerely for
this question of, hey, how do I make sure that I’m using
my limited time on earth, right? How do I allocate my human
capital towards something that can serve a higher purpose,
that can do some good in the world. So that’s the first question. But that’s not good enough. Because there’s another question
that I think is critical. Which is, am I the user? Am I the user? So there’s this two part test. Now, why do I make people
answer that question? And, that’s what’s on the X axis. If, yes I’m the user or
no I’m not the user. Do you happen to know the first
rule of drug dealing?>>Never use?>>Close, yeah. Never get high on your own supply,
very good. I don’t want to ask about
your background, but let’s just go with that, right?>>Okay.
>>That’s the first rule of drug dealing,
never get high on your own supply.>>You’re right.>>So, what I’m doing by asking makers
to consider this question of, number one, do I believe what I’m working on
is materially improving people’s lives? And the number two, am I their user
I’m making them break that rule because if there are any negative
effects to overusing this product, if this product is potentially addictive
as opposed to just habit-forming, guess who’s going to be
the first person to realize it. So that two part test, I think, puts
you not only in a good moral position because you are the user of the product,
interestingly enough, it actually increases your odds of
success from a business perspective. You become what I call a facilitator. If you can answer in the affirmative
to these two questions, you’re a facilitator. And it turns out that the companies
that we talked about earlier, Facebook and Google and
Instagram and WhatsApp and Slack and SnapChat, all of these companies turns
out were started by a facilitator. Doesn’t mean you can’t make money or have a good business in any of those
other four quadrants, it’s just that I think your highest odds of success, and
you’re also in a good moral position, if you can answer yes
to those two questions.>>You probably also feel very
passionate if you’re the user, right?>>Right, right, and
you just build better products, right? The advantage of knowing your user,
right? Because, you’ve got
the user right there, you’ve got your customer
in you is a huge advantage. And, we don’t always
have that opportunity. If you’re working at an agency, or
working at a company where maybe it’s servicing somebody who is not you,
as the user. We don’t always have that luxury. But then again, we always do. We could always choose what we work on,
and what we’re going to spend our time on. And so
I think that’s the best place to be.>>Can you give us an example of
how you can use hooks for good?>>Sure, so a big reason why I wrote
this book is because I want people to use the psychology of
habits to help people live>>better lives, and so I actually do a bit of angel
investing when I see these hooks in products that I think can actually
improve people’s well being. So, there’s several
companies that come to mind, one company that I’m a big fan
of is called Pantrylabs, and Pantrylabs is trying to take on this
obesity epidemic, and what the, the company founders realized is that
>>People were eating unhealthy food, because let’s face it, unhealthy food
is very convenient, it’s cheap, and it’s delicious. So how do we compete with a vending
machine full of refined sugars that are bad for us, that we know cause
obesity and all kinds of other problems, and that’s the entire vending machine So
here comes Pantry lab and says look, we’re going to take a refrigerator,
with a door on it. And we’re going to attach like a kind of
like an iPad like device to the front and you can open the machine,
the refrigerator whenever you like. But as soon as you take
something out of that machine, that happens to be stocked
with fresh delivered food. Everyday the food is delivered fresh,
full of salads, full of fresh ingredients that
are very nutritious and healthy for you As soon as you take out
the food from the machine, it has a RFID chip attached to it and your
credit card is automatically charged. So know for the first time,
healthy food, in an office building is as convenient
to acquire as unhealthy food. And they’re really changing people’s
lives, their day to day habits, it turns out, That losing weight
doesn’t have to be about willpower. It’s not your lack of character that
you can’t resist these temptations. It’s just that if we make the behavior
easier to do, which is a big part of what I described in the book in
the action phase of the hook. If we make that behavior easier
to do and we build a habit out of eating healthy food by making
it as accessible as unhealthy food. That’s all we gotta do, right? We don’t have to expend will power. We don’t have to do this hard work. And that’s really what’s so beautiful
about using habits to change behaviors is that, when we use habits,
we off load the will power. It doesn’t have to become
a struggle anymore. It’s something that we do day in and day
out with little or no conscious thought.>>So people will do the right
thing if you make it easier.>>Right.
Easier, and make it a habit. Right.
So part of what makes using Pantry Lab so easy is I put in my credit card,
that’s the investment phase of the hook. And then I tell it my preferences and so more of that food gets
delivered to me in the future. So this refrigerator that’s
just a vending machine, essentially, gets smarter and
smarter over time the more I use it.